Nandyarvattam is a tree-like shrub with white flowers. Also known as Crape Jasmine in English, its flowers look like a pinwheel. In Kerala, it is usually grown in households gardens and courtyards. Since it is widely used for offerings and poojas, it is often grown in temple premises also.
As per beliefs, its white flowers are special for Lord Vishnu. So in Sanskrit, it has a name – Vishnupriya.
Evergreen Shrub/Small Tree
Scientific name: Tabernaemontana divaricata /
Height: ~1 to 4 meters
white, 5 petals, 3 to 5 cm diameter
Flowering: all round the year
Distribution: Asia – found all over India
English: Pinwheel flower, Crape Jasmine
Tamil: Adukku Nandiarvattai
Hindi: Chameli, Chandni, Tagar
Sanskrit: Nandeevruksha, Ksheeri,
Main uses: for poojas, traditional medicines, ornamental plant
This evergreen plant has lots of branches. The size and general morphology of the plant vary significantly from one plant to another. Mostly, the plant looks like a shrub and does not grow more than 2 meters. However, in some cases, it grows well above that and looks like a small tree.
The leaves are ovate and opposite with length up to 15 cm. The tip is pointed. Breaking the leaf or branch produces a white sap.
The size of the flowers also varies. It can be from 2.5 to 5 cm across. The white petals are five in number with a slight twist towards the left (idampiri in Malayalam), making the flower appear like a pinwheel. There is also a variety with the twist towards the right (valampiri), but I think it is rare.
There is also a variety with fragrant double-flower. The normal variety is not fragrant.
The fruit is about 3 cm long while the seed has a length of 7.5 mm.
Distribution & Habitat
Nandyarvattam is native to the south and southeast Asia including India and parts of China where it has several uses in traditional medicines. The plant prefers moist, fertile soil with good availability of sunlight although it can grow under shade too.
Cultivation is possible from seeds as well as stem cutting.